Here at MORE, we feel that we’ve been a bit remiss in our offerings to the family folk out there. To our readers it may seem like Hangzhouvians’ lives are all about drinking and party. It’s may be true that there are tons of alchies and party animals out there, but there are also lots of mommies and daddies, and they are wondering where they can take their kids to picnic or on a weekend trip, or maybe just be on a farm to get close to nature. Spring is in full throttle, and it’s a fabulous time to get out with the tiny tots before the unbearable heat of the Hangzhou summer engulfs us. So, here we have gathered a collection of info for those of you who have children, and for a change, we are giving you parents some fun places to explore. Enjoy!!
Picnic & Parks
Gu Shan (Solitary Hill) 孤山
It’s been called Solitary Hill because it’s a small peninsula. It’s only 35 meters high, but when you walk around, it feels like you’re in a forest. With a fascinating history and association with calligraphy and ancient poets, Gu Shan gives you a chance to glimpse an element of Chinese culture. Gu Shan is one of the best spots to view West Lake, and there are lots of places you can sit under the trees and enjoy your family time with a picnic. It’s centrally located, which makes it a good spot to hit if you’ve only got an afternoon.
How to Get There? Take Tourist line 10, get off at the Xiling Qiao stop, or take bus 7, 27, get off at the Geling stop.
Ticket Price: free
Taiziwan Park (Prince Bay Park) 太子湾公园
Taiziwan Park, a.k.a. Prince Bay Park, is located on the part of Nanshan Road which loops around to the southwest side of West Lake. It is a beautiful oasis amongst the busy walkways around the lake and is a particular hot spot for wedding photos and the annual tulip exhibition. It’s said that this used to be the site of Cuanyuan Garden (攒园), the garden for temporarily keeping the coffins of two princes in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), hence the name. When spring hits, this park becomes one of the best spots for picnicking or just hanging out. Wander around the park, and you’ll see flowers as well as Japanese apple and cherry trees in full bloom everywhere.
How to Get There? Take bus K4 and 514, get off at the Sudi Park stop.
Ticket Price: free
Hours: 8:30am - 4:30pm
The Xiaoshan government has spent the past several years developing this area, creating a scenic spot to give Hangzhouvians an alternative to the tourist saturated West Lake. Xiang Lake is big and getting even bigger; it’s rumored that by next year, it will be even larger than the West Lake scenic area. Here you’ll find plenty of lawns to recline on for a nice family picnic. If you don’t feel like hauling your own food, there are nice restaurants to eat in. Walk, ride a bike, take a boat to explore the lake. Around the lake there are also spots for the tykes, like the amusement park Hangzhou Paradise and Hangzhou Polar Ocean World.
How to Get There? Take Line 1 of the metro to the Xiang Lake stop.
Ticket Price: Hangzhou Paradise: 160RMB; Polar Ocean World: 240RMB
Hours: Hangzhou Paradise: 10am~9pm (Jun. 29 to Aug. 31); 10am – 5pm (Sep. 1 to Jun. 28); Polar Ocean World: 9am - 5pm
Hangzhou Taoyuan Barbecue 杭州桃园烧烤
This place is located in Liangzhu town (良渚镇石桥村68号) it the north of Hangzhou. They provide more than just barbecues: there is vegetable and fruit picking, fishing, biking, chess and tea rooms, a children's playground and laser tag (CS style). You can bring your own food, or they have a BBQ set which includes all the BBQ equipment, table and chairs, oil, honey, spices, and the usual Hangzhou BBQ fare plus some Longjing Tea. This place can also be a weekend escape as they have accommodation as well.
How to Get There? Take bus 313 from the North Bus Station or from Hangzhou Tower block D, take bus 348 to Liangzhu People’s Square, then taxi to Ye Luwan 野芦湾.
Ticket Price: free
Reservation: 131 7363 5592, 131 0571 7631
Xixi Wetland Park and the Xixi Flower Festival西溪湿地和西溪花朝节
Xixi Wetland is just a great place to spend a day. Take your family there to get close to nature. Xixi is a lush wetland that covers about ten square kilometers, of which three-and-a-half square kilometers are open to the public as a park. Get there early, and you can catch a glimpse of some rare birds.
The Xixi Flower Festival is held in the wetland and ends on May 10th. They offer three packages: The Bike Tour in Xixi Wetland, Children’s Package for games and food, and the Boat Rowing Package. Go to our website www.morehangzhou.com and search “2015 China Hangzhou Xixi Flower Festival” to find the details.
The National Wetland Museum of China is also nearby the wetland. It is open from 9am to 4:30pm every day except Mondays and holidays. The museum is a great place to take kids and people who love the natural beauty of the wetlands. Admission is free, although some special services and displays, like the 4D Theater, have a fee.
How to get there: There is free shuttle bus from Leifeng Pagoda on the south bank of the West Lake to Xixi Wetland every half an hour from 9am to 2:30pm. Passengers who hold entrance tickets for Xixi Wetland can get on the bus for free. Or take bus K506, K193, K310 and sight-seeing line 1 and get off at Xixi Wetland Stop.
Wetland Ticket: 140RMB, including a 20-minute electric boat ride.
Boat: Battery Boat: 60RMB. Row Boat: 100RMB/per boat (6 people/boat)
Hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31); 8:30am – 5pm (Nov. 1 to Mar. 31) Last entry at 4:30pm.
Haihuangxing Ecological Park 海皇星生态乐园
We found this place through a friend’s WeChat. Her son had a ball there. There’s a lot to do in the park: visit the flower and orchard plantation, pick seasonal fruit, spend the night in a bungalow, fish, camp, have a bonfire, picnic, barbecue, play on the playground and horseback ride. Arts and crafts, like kite painting or ceramics, are a lot of fun for you and your kiddo to do together – they need to be booked though (30RMB – 40RMB). You can make dumplings with your kids in the barbecue area. They provide all the things you need for cooking (2RMB/dumpling). The barbecue has a few sets from 50RMB to100RMB (child + adult). You can bring your own food; barbeque equipment runs 170RMB - 220RMB.
How to Get There? Take bus 308 at Huansha Road and Kaiyuan Road junction, get off at the Zhuantang stop, switch to 109 to Zhou Pu stop. Or take bus 310 at Huangchao Huayuan stop at Zijinhua Road, get off at the Liuhe Lu Beikou stop.
Ticket Price: 100RMB/person, 150RMB/one child and adult, 250RMB/one child and two adults
Hours: 8:30am - 5pm
Hangzhou Safari Park 杭州野生动物园
The Hangzhou Safari Park is a fully-fledged zoo and safari park with quite an array of exotic animals. Lions, Siberian Tigers, and the odd Hippo steal the show, but "The Naughty Monkey Cage" is good for giggles too: nit-eating Monkeys preening every conceivable part of their bodies will have you in stitches. You can take the train around the safari park or even drive yourself via private car entry. At every stop there are zookeepers, some feeding mulberry bushes to the Camels or apples the Brown Bear, or giving live chickens to the Cheetahs to squabble over. Circus, Bird and Elephant shows can be seen at various times throughout the day.
How to Get There? Take bus 514A or 514B, the station is at Putisi Road菩提寺路 and goes straight to the Safari Park.
Ticket Price: 180RMB/person, 270RMB/one child and one adult, 450RMB/one child and two adults
Hours: 9:30am - 5pm
Song Dynasty Theme Park 宋城
Walk into the park and you are immediately thrust back to the heyday of the Southern Song Dynasty, when Hangzhou was the seat of power. Make your way through the streets to see the workshops of different trades: camphor, blacksmith, dyeing, porcelain… There are lots of things going on to keep your kids’ attention, like jugglers, shadow plays and Wu Song performances. You can visit the snack street to stuff the monsters’ faces before you hit the large-scale song and dance show Song Dynasty Eternal Love. It’s on every day from 2pm to 3pm, 6pm to 7pm, and 7:20pm to 8:20pm.
How to Get There? Take bus 4, 202, 287, 308, 318, 354, 510, 1400, or tourist bus 3, get off at the Songcheng stop.
Ticket Price: 300RMB/person, includes entry and show Song Dynasty Eternal Love
Hours: 10am – 9pm
The Farmer Park 农夫乐园
This is the place where your child can experience what farm life is like. There are areas like Xiyangyang (Happy Sheep) Park and Twelve Zodiac Cartoon Characters Park. There are also special summer activities like World of Ice, where you can ski and see ice sculptures, Night Water Carnival, where you can enjoy their laser show, and the Water Splashing Festival. At the farm, you can help them pick fruit and vegetables, hula hoop, bamboo pole dance and sing – different ways to feel the (real?) farming life.
How to Get There? Take bus 313 or 348, get off at the Liangzhu stop, keep walking 150m to reach the traffic light, turn right and walk another 700m. The Farmer Park will be on your right.
Ticket Price: 120RMB/adults, 60RMB/kids, 300RMB/two adults+one kid
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Hello Kitty Theme Park Hello Kitty主题公园
Hello Kitty has got its own theme park in China, and it’s the largest one yet. The newly-opened park is able to accommodate at least one million people a year. Apparently, the beloved kitten also has a loyal and diehard following outside its native Japan. There are six zones with at least ten attractions in each. No roller coasters as of yet, but there is a nice selection of family-friendly rides. Regardless of what you make of the lovable Japanese feline, the Hello Kitty theme park is expected to be a massive hit and bring smiles to little girls (and boys) from all corners of China.
How to Get There? Catch a bus to Anji, which departs every 15 to 20 minutes from the North Bus Station and costs 28RMB, and then take a taxi from outside the station, which costs around 30RMB.
Ticket Price: 260RMB/adults, 200RMB/kids
Hours: 9am - 5pm
Address: 1 Tianshi Avenue, Anji, Zhejiang province (4009 778 899) 浙江省湖州市安吉县天使大道1号
Chocolate Happy Land 巧克力主题公园
This is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the real world! Chocolate Happy Land, located in the Shanghai Expo Park, has eight areas, like Chocolate Kingdom, The Garden of Eden, and The Magic Shop, to name a few. Here, visitors can see the world's largest chocolate castle – it reaches as high as ten meters and covers an area of 2,000 square meters. Ninety-eight tons of bitter sweet chocolate and sixty tons of milk chocolate were used to build it. In The Magic Garden of Eden, you will see bubbling chocolate syrup, a rainbow bridge made of candy and a chocolate waterfall. The wee ones can play with Hello Kitty, the Transformers, Garfield, Crayon Shin-chan and other well-known cartoon characters.
How to Get There? Take bus 82, 610, 170, 815, 627, 818, get off at the terminal Tongyao Road/Yaolong Road stop, take the Chocolate Happy Land free shuttle bus, which departs every 20 minutes. Or take subway line no.7, get off at the Houtan stop, take exit 4 to find the Chocolate Happy Land free shuttle bus. You will see the sign at the exit.
Ticket Price: 120RMB/adults, 60RMB/kids
Hours: 9am - 5pm
Address: 100 Bocheng Road, Pudong, Shanghai 上海市浦东新区博成路100号 (近世博大道-上钢路路口)
Tel: 021 5100 1881/8723 8583
China Dinosaurs Park 中华恐龙园
The Dinosaur Park in Changzhou is where you can live the movie Jurassic Park. Well, not really, but if your kids are into dinosaurs, this is the place to go. There are lots of enormous scale dino sculptures throughout the park, and a great museum with fossils to add some science fun to your day. It’s easy to get around with electric carts or even tandem bikes to ride. There are also some amusement park rides for teens and adults to enjoy, and in the summer months they open up their water park to cool everyone down.
How to Get There? Catch a bus to Changzhou from the North Bus Station at 89RMB, or take a train from Hangzhou or Hangzhou North Train Station for150RMB, then take a taxi, which costs around 20RMB.
Ticket Price: 230RMB/adults, 115RMB/kids
Hours: 9am - 5pm
Address: 1 Hanjiang Road, Xinbei District, Changzhou, Jiangsu 江苏常州市新北区汉江路1号
Coming soon: Shanghai Disney Resort
Disneyland Shanghai is set to open in the spring of 2016. The 1,000-acred theme park will include the world's largest Disney castle, a Toy Story hotel and a 'Disneytown'. It was originally due to open this year, but Disney CEO Bob Iger last week announced a delay.
Website: www. shanghaidisneyresort.com.cn
Day Care, Kindergarten & Schools
Freinet Education Centre 弗雷内教育中心
Freinet Education Centre is the only school in China authorized by the Institut Coopératif de l’Ecole Moderne (ICEM), the Fédération Internationale des Mouvements d’Ecole Moderne (FIMEM) to use and promote Freinet pedagogy. Their courses are designed in three languages (Chinese, English and French): science, art, social codes, language and sports are aimed at children from two to six years old. They also recommend and organize a number of international cultural activities. They provide weekend courses in English, French and art in small class, and also Freinet pedagogical training for teachers.
Address: Guanjiang Building, Wangjiang Park, Wangchao Road 望潮路望江公园观江楼, 0571 8701 3630; Fu Di, Tianmushan Road, inside the Xixi National Wetland Park 天目山路西溪湿地公园内高庄入口福堤旁, 0571 8601 1160
Hangzhou International School 杭州国际学校
Hangzhou International School was founded in 2001 as a sister school to the Shanghai Community International Schools with an initial enrollment of 15 students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 4. It currently serves over 300 students in Nursery through 12th grade.
Address: 80 Dongxin Road, Binjiang 滨江区东信路80号, 0571 8669 0045
Founded in 1976, Gymboree is the global leader in early childhood development program. With 35 years of experience in guiding parents and their children to learn and develop together. There are more than 700 education centers in 40 countries and regions, including the UK, USA, Canada, Switzerland, France and Asia. As the wonderland for kids aged from 0 to 5, Gymboree develops the children’s potential in a systematic manner and provides learning programs via recreation, which includes play, music and art. They now operate four branches in Hangzhou.
Address: 3/F, 51 Feiyunjiang Road 飞云江路51号凤凰城3楼, 0571 8755 2855; 3/F, Keji Square, 90 Wensan Road (at Macheng Road) 文三路90号科技广场3楼(马塍路口), 0571 8195 1666; 558-560 North Jianguo Road 建国北路558-560号, 0571 8813 7855; 2/F, InCity, 588 Gudun Road 古墩路588号古墩印象城 (沃尔玛) 2楼, 0571 8195 1221
Kidswant Supermarket 城西银泰孩子王
This supermarket is great – everything for expectant mothers and kids from 0 to 14 years old. One stop and you have it all! If you are pregnant and preparing for delivery, you can go there to pack your labor bag. You can also buy the baby stuff ahead of time to welcome your little angel. If you are a new mother, there you will find diapers, baby clothes, formula, baby bottles, baby oil, shampoo, shower gel, car seat… It will save you a lot of time!
Address: B1/F, Intime Mall, 380 Fengtan Road 丰潭路380号城西银泰城地下1楼
BLT is located at the foot of Kidswant. This supermarket sells imported goods. They have a nice section for imported baby stuff like formula, baby bottles, baby oil, shampoo, shower gel, diaper ointment… You’ll be amused by their brand selection.
Address: B1/F, Intime Mall, 380 Fengtan Road 丰潭路380号城西银泰城地下1楼
Inspired by the skills of martial artists Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, 18-year old Tim Vukan and his friends were intrigued by this ancient art. After seeking guidance and training from Ving Tsun Gong Fu instructor Jan Hantelman, a connection was made for life. He shared with us stumbling across a tiny Chinese bookshop and discovering hundreds of books detailing the very art he loved. Intrigued by the images he found within the pages, he often went back to look around. It was here that he found the book that would change his life: Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu. Being the only book he found written in German, it became a part of him, attached to him day and night. After watching a live performance from the Shaolin monks in Hamburg he knew it was time…
After six years of intensive training and teaching in Hamburg and Münster, Tim took the plunge and moved to Dengfeng, Henan to practice directly at the source. Home to many academies and thousands of students, he chose to study at Wushu College where a little girl took him by surprise: “The best teacher I had was a nine-year old girl. She taught me high kicks and how to perform very difficult techniques. She taught me to be honest and kind to people.”
What was the most difficult part of your course?
The most difficult part was we had to train very hard every day no matter what condition our bodies were in. Training started at 5:30am and continued all day until 6-7pm. After three weeks of intensive training, I couldn’t walk up the stairs and suffered from heavy muscle tension pain in my legs. Once I was lying in bed, I felt calm and peaceful until the loud Chinese march music woke me up in the morning and it started all over again. This pain is necessary to understand your body. If you want to perform Shaolin Gong Fu and to reach a high level we must go further to feel what it means to have focus.
In Chinese there is a saying 先苦后甜, which means after hard and bitter work there will be sweetness. It means that we have to work hard if we want to achieve something. Everything we do is to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and to learn how to control our body and our mind in different situations. Our body is sometimes weak. Learning Gong Fu is a way to train our minds to tell our body what to do and when to stop. I learnt jianchi 坚持 – it doesn’t matter if we fail or succeed, it is more important to go on. Our body and mind each have their own language and we are able to control our body with our mind. If there is a strong mind and a clear heart, there is a strong body. Many diseases are based on an imbalance of our body and our mind. If we stay focused in the moment, we can prevent illnesses and have a happier life! Gong Fu is a way to choose health and happiness in your life.
After Henan, Tim moved to Yangshuo, Guangxi province to continue with taiji quan classes. There he met a woman who was offering taiji sword lessons and became her student, learning taiji next to the Li river. She taught him many things like Chinese cooking and the art of bartering. He felt happiness getting to know a culture which he had always wanted to learn more about.
During his travels in 2004, he really enjoyed Hangzhou. Growing up in Hamburg, he was a part of nature. In Hangzhou, he found he could still have that in the beautiful mountains and bamboo forests surrounding the city. From the beginning of his martial arts career, he often came into contact with Chinese medicine. In 2005, he decided to start studying it. In ancient times, masters of Gong Fu were often also doctors of Chinese medicine – it was a natural progression. Zhejiang Chinese Medical University offered him a place.
We hear a lot about the pressure of education in China, did you feel a lot?
The Chinese education system can be very challenging for foreigners. First to master the language and then to get used to the way of teaching. Asking questions doesn’t have much space in classroom; it’s very different to the west. Chinese students are not used to communicating with their teachers, only listening to gain information. This caused a lot of pressure while studying. Preparing for a test required memorizing and repeating facts instead of putting the theory into our own words like back home. Every culture has its own specialties, especially when it comes to education. Now, I often meet young people in the clinic telling me about their life and study and that it made them sick. Young students are often overwhelmed with pressure. I start telling them my story, hoping to inspire them to find their own way to learn.
You’ve founded your own company, how has that been? Do you have good support?
I founded Wushan TCM, a Chinese medical network, with the goal to connect the east with the west and to offer Chinese medicine education to students and current practitioners. There are live webinars and recorded online courses about the theory and practice. I also arrange local treatments for foreigners with Chinese medicine and take care of the language translations and clinical arrangements. I work in cooperation with Chinese medical doctors whom I’ve met during my studies and practice over the past twelve years. I want to help people to come to China and to gain their individual experiences.
You’ve studied tai chi, TCM and lots of other ways of healing. What would you say is the best medicine?
In our modern times a practitioner has to have knowledge from both western and Chinese medicine to offer the patients the most accurate and suitable diagnosis and treatment. Even though western and Chinese medicine are very different from each other, they can be combined in many different ways. While western medicine is treating the illness, Chinese medicine is treating the symptoms of the patient and finding the source. An example of how they work in harmony would involve undergoing surgery for an external injury (western) followed by Chinese medicine to strengthen the patient help to recover in a more comprehensive way. Both medicines have their limitations and their benefits.
I won’t say that TCM is the best medicine. I believe Chinese medicine can help a lot of people, where western medicine cannot. Above all, the best medicine is when people take better care of themselves and gain more understanding of how we can keep healthy and prevent illness. It’s about our lifestyle, our emotions, our living and working environment, our family situation, our nutrition and so much more. I want people to gain more sensibility about their lives and what makes us ill.
What plans do you have for the future?
I would like to combine my life in China with the life in the west. At the moment, I am preparing the German natural license test to be allowed to work and to treat in Germany with Chinese medicine. In the future I want to offer more lectures, seminars and tours in Hangzhou and to give more students the great opportunity to learn from professional doctors. More and more foreigners are interested in coming to China to study TCM. I want to help them however I can. The world will become more connected. Let’s become a part of it!
Tim Vukan has been studying and practicing Chinese medicine for more than ten years at the Zhejiang Chinese Medical University in Hangzhou. He founded Wushan TCM in 2008 to connect Chinese medicine practitioners and students by offering Chinese medicine online courses and training tours to enable an authentic education in the theory and clinical field of Chinese health cultivation methods. To learn more, visit the website at www.wushantcm.com.
I first visited Georgetown, the capital city of Penang Island, Malaysia, in 2008. This was just before Georgetown gained Unesco World Heritage designation. I vividly recall the beauty of the decaying historical buildings dating back to the late 18th century British colonial rule. The multi-coloured shop houses with peeling paint stood stoically, telling countless stories of the centuries gone by.
In 1786, Britain established Georgetown to rival the Dutch trading port Malacca in a bid to gain control of the important trade routethrough the Straits of Malacca which connected Europe, the Middle East and India to the west with China, Southeast Asia and Japan to the east.Georgetown began attracting Chinese, Indian and Malaysian merchants and settlers. Each group broughtalong their language, food and religion making Georgetown a very special mix of cultures living together in harmony.
Georgetown’s Unesco World Heritage zone is a compact, easily manageable area that you can walk around in two to three hours. Start at the grand KapitanKeling mosque, built in 1801 by Indian Muslim settlers with its Mughal-style domes and Indian-Islamic minaret, from where the call to prayer can be heard five times a day.
Then wander around Little India with Bollywood music blaring from shops and colorful silk saris on display. Tantalizing skewers of tandoori meattempt you to stop and nibblewhile tables piled with samosas and Indian sweets are hard to resist.Then further to the north, near the coastline are the British colonial buildings that now house banks, western bars and restaurants.
Turn a corner and head towards the Chinese area with colourfulclan houses, temples and shops. Bustling hawker stalls line the streets, selling Penang’s famous street foods like CharKwayTeow, Chee Cheong Fun and HokkienMee. The Chinese community has roots from Hokkien, Cantonese and Hakka and they here are a linguistically talented bunch who easily switch between conversations in Cantonese, Mandarin, their own Chinese dialects, English and Malay.
By the time I visited in 2008, much of the historic area had fallen into disrepair. Then came the Unesco World Heritage designation breathingrenewed life to Georgetown and historic buildings were restored and converted into cafes and boutique hotels. Previously, Georgetown mainly offered budget guesthouses and one very top end hotel. Now, there’s a growing range of boutique heritage hotels for visitors to choose from.
Campbell House was one of the first boutique hotels to open in Georgetown, and work on converting the building into a hotel began even before the Unesco World Heritage listing was announced. The owners, wife and husband team Nardya Wray and Robert Dreon, both saw the potential in Georgetown and had faith in its future. Nardya has a personal history with Penang, having been born in Malaysia before moving to UK andthen often returning to Penang to visit family.
Robert and Nardya bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, both coming from successful careers in London’s luxury hospitality industry.The couple embarked on restoring the hundred-year-old corner shophouse, completely gutting the building down to the original beams and structure.Working tirelessly over three years, they lovingly restored the building and filled their dream hotel with antique furniture sourced from around the region.
Campbell House offers eleven suites, each with an individual character representing a different element of colonial Malaysia, such as the Colonial Room with a four poster bed or the Sari Room graced with a headboard made from sari silk.
The rooms are luxuriously appointed and feature modern fixtures and technologies like flat screen TV’s, Nespresso machines, chilly central air-con, rain head showersand newplumbing. You may be staying in a heritage hotel with antique furniture, but you will not lackfor any modern comforts.
Campbell House is located on Campbell Street, right in the heart of Georgetown and makes a great base for exploring the city. The next street over is LebuhChulia, one of the main roads of Georgetown, where you’ll find many bars and street food.
Leaving behind the chaotic colourfulstreetlife and stepping into the peaceful tranquility of Campbell House, the first thing you will notice is the lovely lemongrass scent. Then the friendly receptionist will get you checked-in and pull out a map to show you where to find the best food and attractions.
Respecting the original architecture, there are no elevators in this three story house, but the hotel staff will use a clever pulley system to get your luggage to the top floor. Smoking is not permitted indoors, but you can do so on the rooftop terrace.
As is the tradition in Malaysian houses, guests have to leave their shoes in the public area before proceeding upstairs to the rooms. This ensures that the living areas are immaculately clean and you get the warm feeling that you are an honoured guest in a private house. Each guest receives personalized attention and you can even make special requests for breakfast to suit your dietary needs. The library invites guests to lounge and chat with each other and we had many lively conversations with our fellow travelers there.
Rooms are cleaned twice a day, and atnight they will leave iced tea and some sweet treats in the fridge. The soft and fluffy king-sized feather-topped bed is so comfortable, there seems to be a magic spell around it because as soon as you lay down you almost immediately fall asleep.
Breakfastis served in their Italian restaurant from 8am-12pm, so guests can leisurely sleep in or go out for an early morning walk before temperatures get too hot and still have ample time to return and enjoy breakfast.The breakfast spread includes a basket of freshly baked bread, a selection of housemade jams like coconut, orange marmalade and pineapple, a large platter of fresh fruit and a choice of entrée such as Eggs Benedict or Welsh Rarebit.
Their Italian Restaurant, Il Bacaro, draws on Robert’s Italian roots and offers an alternative to local cuisine. As much as I love curries and fried noodles, sometimes you just crave a fine Italian meal. It’s become a trendy dining destination for travelers and locals alike.
Georgetown is a city you can come back to again and again and never grow tired of.The Unesco World Heritage designation came just in time to save many heritage buildings from demolition. Though developmentis bringing about changes, its soul and authenticity still remains, just a scratch beneath the surface. The introduction of a heritage hotel like Campbell House means you can now visit Georgetown and stay in style and comfort.
Campbell House is a World Luxury Hotel Award winner and is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for B&Bs in Georgetown. Rooms range from 600-800RMB per night.Air Asia flies from Hangzhou to Penang, transferring in Kuala Lumpur.
The Hyatt Regency welcomes Raul Avendano, a 31-year-old chef from Chile, to “spice up” their restaurant and buffet. This South American hottie creates a flavor so refreshing it will whip your taste buds into shape and wake you up from a world of slumber. This talented chef started his career in the hotel business studying administration, but after one year he decided it wasn’t for him. He changed majors to be in the kitchen and everything fell into place.
“When I put on my uniform and take my knife, I feel different. I get this intense feeling, just taking the raw ingredients and transforming them to something incredible.”
Raul has been cooking in top hotels all over the world. After four years traveling in Mexico, he moved on to Macau to open a new branch of the Banyan Tree. He was also the chef in the pre-openings of Dubai’s exclusive beachfront bar and restaurant Zero Gravity and the Grand Hyatt Casino Hotel in the Bahamas.
His Mexican Flautas are a good place to start if you are unfamiliar with Latin cuisine. Succulent chicken breast cooked in a tomato base and wrapped in a crispy flour tortilla, topped with sour cream and fresh salad. Next, we tried the Pork Loin Roulade with onions, garlic, dried cranberries, nuts and apple sauce, pan seared and finished to perfection in the oven. This was served with roasted potatoes and a chorizo-like sausage. If that wasn’t tantalizing enough, the final surprise was the Green Lamb Chops marinated with lemon and served on a bed of creamy quinoa risotto that really got our tongues tingling! We managed to have a chat and find out ‘more’ about the man himself for all you readers of MORE Hangzhou.
So Raul, you have quite the resume! Can you tell us which of your experiences have been the most rewarding so far?
A great place for me to work was Dubai. It was challenging at first because of the religion and restrictions. In Chile, we like to cook with red wine and experiment with new ingredients and spices, but there I could not use alcohol or pork. But, the supply of fresh meats, vegetables and spices was endless and we had good contacts with the suppliers. In the end, I really honed in on other techniques and flavors. It was a memorable time.
We all know how difficult it is to get certain ingredients here. Why did you choose China?
The fascination came from when I was a kid, you know. Growing up, I loved the Chinese movies with Jackie Chan, and I was amazed by the different culture and, of course, the food! Then I worked Macau and I learnt so much! I thought “I’m here! I’ve done it.” China is a place that people from the west think they know until they arrive here and it all opens up. It’s a whole new world. After I left Macau and went back to South America, I thought… “Something is missing in this kitchen… the woks!” Working on a line with these tools and producing a different taste was incredible, and I am happy to be back working with a talented group of individuals.
What’s the greatest difficulty you have here?
It has to be the language. I’m learning slowly but it will take time. I always say “I have no problems, just challenges,” and because I have no problems, I have more time to find solutions. I love working in this team. To these chefs, it isn’t just a job, it’s their passion and that’s what make this food very special.
Where did your motivation come from? Did your mum cook at home?
Oh no, my love for cooking comes from my Dad’s side of the family. My aunt and my Grandmother, they have good taste. My teachers too, they really inspired me to do more. I hope the people in Hangzhou can be open to try new flavours and enjoy eating my food as much as I enjoy creating it.
If you would like to join the taste fiesta, then head down to the Hyatt Regency hotel for their Latin Festival which lasts until April 10th. The buffet, which includes the dishes we tried, will run you 348RMB from Sunday to Thursday and from Friday to Saturday 368RMB (both prices have a 15% service charge).
Raul is in the process of creating a whole new a la carte menu that will be available after the festival with other dishes of Latin taste to tease you too! For more information on this, go ahead and contact the hotel or pop by for a sneaky peak at Raul himself hard at work in Café at the Hyatt. Buen Provecho!
To be honest, this is not exactly how I saw my Saturday morning going. After a good deal of persuasion, I had given in and decided to come to CrossFit Qiantang to see what all the fuss was about. Standing in a room full of about twenty-five athletic-looking sorts limbering up, little did I know that I was about to experience what would be one of the more intense twenty minutes worth of exercise I had done in my life.
In the car on the way to the gym, after having signed up for the class, we found out what the WOD (workout of the day) was. That day it would begin with 150 Burpees, a movement which involves going from standing to lying, to standing and a jump to finish. Then, 100 Wall Balls, requiring you to throw a medicine ball to above a line high on the wall. These two exercises were to be completed as a team, shared and in rotation. The final part, 5x200 meters, would be an individual effort.
After stretching and warming up, we were put into teams of three, our team name placed on the board, thereby riling up the competitive spirit in each and every athlete present. As the countdown began from ten, the crowd erupted, and as the music got louder, the tempo in the room sky-rocketed and the anticipation became unbearable.
Then, the room exploded as the battle for supremacy began, each team pitted off against each other in an effort to achieve the best time. During the next twenty minutes, I found strength in me that I didn’t know existed as my team and trainers (and even the opposition!?) spurred me on to reach the finish line in as fast a time as possible.
So this was my experience of CrossFit, a way of working out that has taken countless countries by storm and is now rapidly spreading through the mainland of China. For a better explanation of what CrossFit actually is, I spoke with the founder of CrossFit Qiantang, The General. Summing up my experience perfectly he told me, “It’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone. CrossFit is fun, but at the same time it can be brutal because it pushes you to your limits. The purpose of CrossFit is to train at your threshold area, which means you need to push your margin out.”
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit has three core fundamentals: constant variation, functional movement and high intensity. The first, constant variation, aims to improve your overall fitness, offering new and completely different workouts each time, using muscles you never knew you had, in contrast to a more focused improvement that some sports or traditional gym training offer: “We want every single one of our athletes to have a great general, broad fitness, which means they are prepared for the unknown,” said The General. In addition, you only find out the WOD after having booked the class, so if it’s something you don’t like, there’s no backing out: “You have no idea what you are going to be doing that day, just like real life. Life is unpredictable... CrossFit is the same thing.”
Functional movement involves using non-artificial movement – many gym machines promote a movement that is not entirely natural, whereas functional movements are more daily-life based and can therefore be used more in everyday situations.
High intensity is fairly self-explanatory, the benefit being you can put in less time but get more benefit. Rather than spending countless hours on a treadmill, CrossFit can condense this into around fifteen or twenty minutes of actual workout time (not including warming up or down), and yet offers results to match and even surpass longer, less intense workouts.
Why do CrossFit?
Aside from obvious health benefits, the most valuable thing CrossFit can offer is community. Looking lost on my first time in the gym, I was warmly received by trainers and members alike, as they approached me to introduce themselves and confess their great love for CF. Jenny had been CF-ing for around six months and was quick to praise the social aspect CF offers. She’d been working out in traditional gyms for years, rarely meeting anyone new: “I would be next to a guy on a treadmill every week for five or six years and have no idea about his name or who he was. Coming to CrossFit, there is a real feeling of community; everyone is very friendly and a strong bond is formed.”
This bond can only serve to improve your workout input as when you are making that final push, those around you shouting your name are sources of admiration and inspiration, team members who want nothing more than to see you do that extra rep, sprint that last 100 meters. They expect nothing less than 100%, and that is exactly what you should give them.
Furthermore, CrossFit supports and encourages its members to leave their comfort zone behind and do things they never thought they were capable of. The General explained, “The vast majority of people in this world only want to do the things they can do well… we like to give you something that you’re not good at… just use four or five hours a week to do this and your life will change completely.” So rather than doing something which comes easily to you, something you’re used to and can handle with relative ease, why not improve yourself by doing something you’re terrible at. Makes sense, right?
Some go to church, others go to CrossFit
For most, CF is more than just a workout. It’s way of life, a way of thinking that seems to make people want more from themselves. For one member, Adriana, CF was the missing piece of the puzzle, and after discovering it, her life came together, leading her to quit her job and become a shareholder in the company. Like many of the members here, you too may find yourself starting a new chapter of your life. Discover a new you, meet new friends. There’s really no excuse, so go on down and meet the CrossFit Qiantang family.
Give it a shot
For those of you thinking of joining, the first step is to sign up for one of their trial classes, either on Saturdays at 10am or Wednesdays at 8pm. The Saturday morning class will include members, so you’ll have a chance to meet the whole gang, something I strongly recommend, whereas the Wednesday evening class will include prospective members only. Also, many different membership schemes are available depending on your availability, ranging from a one-off drop in fee to a five-times-weekly membership.
Etienne Jeanne, guitarist with gypsy jazz band Three of a Kind, has been living in China for almost ten years. His Russian bandmates are based in Paris which means he mostly gets to play with them when he returns to France in the summer. This year however they are recording a new project in April and are hoping to embark on a world tour next year. I asked Etienne some questions about the band and the musical genre of gypsy jazz.
How did you meet your bandmates?
The three of us met in Paris in 2002. I had just moved to Paris when I was 18 in order to start my career as a professional musician, and met Aliocha and Vladi separately while doing gigs in Paris. It was the beginning of the "gypsy jazz revival" at the time. They were performing in an old Russian cabaret every week. I went to jam with them and found we had a strong connection right away so we decided to form a band. We've remained friends ever since.
How do you define gypsy jazz?
Gypsy jazz is a musical genre developed by the late great Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli in the late 30's, on the initiative of Hugues Panassié and Charles Delauney who wanted to build and promote a unique type of European jazz. That is why the Hot Club de France were the first "strings only" jazz quintet ever, innovating jazz music with a totally new sound never recorded before.
Is gypsy jazz the hardest genre to play on guitar?
It definitely requires strong guitar skills to play gypsy jazz, but not only that. A certain knowledge about jazz and gypsy culture in general, and an acuity for improvisation are also important.
Do you think there is a large audience for this type of music?
There is undoubtedly a large audience for gypsy jazz as this type of music is getting more and more popular. When I started to play this music, it was kind of a geek thing known principally in France and a few countries around (England, Germany, Holland, Italy), and now there is a Hot Club in every major city in the world, such as San Francisco, and even in Beijing! This style of music is pleasing to the ear, non-aggressive, and visually strong as you can see guitar players and violin players going crazy on their instruments! Plus it involves the guitar, which is the most popular instrument in the world, so people tend to identify themselves with it even more, especially metal guitar players.
What's the best thing about playing to a live audience?
Two things; the reward of an intense practice at home for years when people are clapping their hands, and the freedom to re-arrange our tunes, improvise, and make people surprised with a brand new show each time. To record is to leave a trace in time, to play live is to feel carefree again.
Where's your favourite place to play in Hangzhou?
I personally like to play in JZ Club because the venue is well adapted for live performances. There are many other places in Hangzhou offering the possibility to watch live bands, but not enough in my opinion. That is why I still need to work in Shanghai regularly since there are more opportunities. Fingers crossed about more musicians coming to Hangzhou in the next few years.
Has Chinese music had any influence on the music that you play?
Chinese music had an influence on the way I write originals indeed, we also cover a few songs from the early 30's Shanghai jazz repertoire.
Which bands are you following at the moment?
In the field of gypsy jazz, there are a lot of good musicians upcoming from all around the world although I think this type of music is precisely the legacy of Django Reinhardt, and hasn't really improved yet. People tend to copy the "authentic gypsy style" too much instead of working on their own interior music, which I think wouldn't have been the wish of the creators of this revolutionary musical genre.
If you would like to see Three of a Kind playing live, you can check them out at the venues below.
April 2nd @ ABC Café (Starts at 7:30pm)
1/F, Changjian Mansion, 415 Huanxing Rd, Binjiang, 滨江环兴路415号长建大厦1楼
April 8th @ Amigo (Starts at 9pm)
8 Yugu Rd, 玉古路8号
April 17th @ JZ Hangzhou (Starts at 9:30pm)
6 Liuying Rd (Nanshan Rd) , 柳营路6号（靠南山路）
April 22nd @ Reggae bar (Starts at 10:30pm)
131 Xueyuan Rd, 学院路131号
April 23rd @ Schänke (Starts at 9:30pm)
Room -3 and 2-2, Building 32, Qingchunfang, Qingchun Rd, 庆春路青春坊32幢1-3室和2-2室